Amtrak Matches ODOT Grant to Improve Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure

WASHINGTON – In support of an Oregon Department of
Transportation (ODOT) grant application, Amtrak announced a matching $750,000 contribution
to reduce delays in the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. ODOT’s grant application,
if successful, will restore an out-of-service siding between Portland and
Salem. Restoring this siding will improve on-time performance on a rail line
segment where the largest cause of delay to Amtrak Cascades customers is freight
train interference.

“Oregon’s Amtrak network operates on tracks owned,
maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads. Because the freight railroads
make all dispatching decisions, they have a tremendous amount of influence over
schedule, often prioritizing their own trains over our customers,” said Amtrak
President and CEO Richard Anderson. “We are thrilled to invest in the Oregon
City Siding Project and further the first phase that will not only reduce delays
but will contribute to the economic competitiveness of the region.”

The Oregon City Siding rehabilitation project was selected by
ODOT to be one of three projects the agency will sponsor for the U.S.
Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage
Development (BUILD) Discretionary Grants program. The BUILD program emphasizes
improved access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation for communities
in urban and rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure
conditions, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity or
facilitate economic growth or competitiveness. BUILD is a highly competitive grant
program for surface transportation infrastructure projects that have a
significant local, regional or national impact.

Plans for restoring the Oregon City Siding include laying new track, ties and equipping both ends with power-operated switches and switch heaters to avoid snow delays in the winter. After the completion of the Oregon City Siding Project, ODOT will work to secure funding for an additional track on an adjacent three-mile section between Oregon City and an existing siding to the south. This two-phase project will result in five miles of a new double-track section between Portland and Salem, significantly reducing congestion and delays caused by freight trains and other Amtrak trains.

On-time performance of the Amtrak Cascades service between
Portland and Eugene is frequently impacted by delays caused by freight trains
and other Amtrak trains. This project will help reduce these delays so that
Amtrak customers arrive at their destination on time.